Israel’s defense minister ordered a halt Thursday to the controversial policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen after an internal army review concluded it has not deterred attackers but has inflamed hatred.
Since the 1967 Middle East War, Israel has razed more than 2,400 Palestinian homes -- leaving thousands of people homeless -- including 675 houses destroyed in the past four years of fighting, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem.
The army review found the practice has inflamed hatred. The Haaretz newspaper said there were no more than 20 cases in which the threat of demolition deterred attackers or pushed their families to turn them in. Militant groups compensate families of attackers and help them rebuild, weakening possible deterrence.
The Israeli human rights group B’tselem says the Israeli military has destroyed more than 4,000 Palestinian homes during the current conflict, most in operations to clear away buildings used by militants as cover for attacks or to widen security roads. Those practices were not included in Thursday’s decision.